Syncytial virus: from risk factors to vaccines, the circular to combat it

Syncytial virus: from risk factors to vaccines, the circular to combat it


Every year in Italy it is estimated that the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) causes “28 thousand hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths, of which 1,800 among over 60s”. It is the leading cause of hospitalization for children under one year of age. The experts who spoke at the event ‘It’s not as it seems’, promoted by the national patient association Respiriamo Insieme-Aps, in collaboration with Edra Spa, took stock. “However, the data risk being underestimated – the specialists highlighted – due to signs and symptoms similar to those of influenza, which lead to an incorrect diagnosis or failure to promptly recognize an RSV infection”.

During the meeting Francesco Vaiageneral director of health prevention of the Ministry of Health, announced a circular for the Regions “to underline the actions to prevent the RSV virus, including those of immunization. It is fundamental – he reiterated – that in our lives, alongside a healthy diet and sporting activity, also includes the Health Calendar, which begins with breastfeeding and continues throughout life, also including screening and vaccinations. Prevention, starting from lifestyles, is central and strategic for the Ministry of Health”.

“The respiratory syncytial virus – the experts recalled – represents one of the main causes of hospitalization for newborns and children under 12 months, for whom it can cause acute infection of the lower respiratory tract and the development of bronchiolitis or pneumonia. A virus that causes several children’s hospitals are trying. Rsv infection is relatively frequent in every age group, but while in healthy adults it often resolves itself with a simple cold, it can prove particularly dangerous for children, especially during the first year of life: every this virus causes over 118 thousand pediatric deaths globally each year.”

“Today’s meeting was born from the need for discussion and the construction of a new alliance between the institutional, technical and clinical world – explained Simona Barbaglia, president of Respiriamo Insieme – with the aim of turning the spotlight on this problem and draw important guidelines that answer important questions, starting with how to increase protection and awareness regarding RSV and the risks for fragile patients, from children to the elderly, to immunosuppressed people”.

“A recent retrospective study by Professor Pierachille Santus, conducted on 717 patients treated in the emergency room of the Sacco University Hospital in Milan in autumn-winter 2022-2023, with flu-like symptoms or acute respiratory failure – remarked Barbaglia – highlighted as patients with Rsv had the highest incidence of acute respiratory failure (62.7%) and severe disease (70.5%).The study demonstrates how Rsv infection is associated with significant mortality and morbidity, and this it is unacceptable in a country that can boast a health welfare system like ours. The institutions must realize that research and innovation are advancing. Science is making innovative weapons available to us against RSV: these weapons must be deployed to defend the most fragile patients”.

“The burden of disease in the adult population is certainly underestimated compared to the pediatric population for which we have consolidated data – he pointed out Emanuele Nicastri, secretary of the Italian Society of Infectious and Tropical Diseases – In Europe we are talking about around 3 million acute respiratory syndromes attributable to RSV, just under half a million hospitalizations and around 30 thousand deaths linked to this pathology. Since last year we have had at least two vaccines available for the adult population and those with comorbidities. We hope that they can be used together with other vaccinations of the adult patient, with or without comorbidities.”



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